October 27, 2016 | Written by: Ronen Tamir and Iris Grossman, Ph.D.
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While U.S. healthcare is largely localized, it is important to look beyond our geographical borders to identify those actors and entities in healthcare – specifically those with global reach – that have the power to drive real improvements in care delivery. And today – effectively reaching hundreds of millions of patients across the world each day — that global force is pharma.
How are pharmaceutical companies investing in technology and using their global footprints to drive innovation, improve care and create efficiencies both in our country and all over the world? Below are four ways that pharmaceutical companies can – and should – be leveraging the incredible power of data analytics, cognitive computing and collaboration in order to make a measurable difference for patients and the industry on a global scale:
- Transforming care delivery and medication therapy: For many illnesses today there is a standard of care – a set of key benchmarks and widely accepted practices that have been proven effective by way of traditional drug development methods. However, the majority of these standards are based on a limited sample size of relatively homogeneous patients – and thus a limited amount of data – offering what is dubbed a “one-size-fits-most” or “average patient” approach to care delivery and medication therapy. But with intelligent technologies and robust analytics as the foundation, pharma companies are able to move towards a more personalized approach – to effectively analyze, group, target and understand patient populations to customize treatments – and uncover key signals and patterns that may have previously gone undetected. For example, studies indicate that one- to two-thirds of patients do not experience benefit from the traditionally developed drugs they are prescribed.[i] This means that while many patients enjoy effective care, a huge concern remains for the rest of the patient population, when it comes to symptom relief, disease progression, medication adherence/patient compliance and adverse events. Add to that the increasing prevalence of chronic conditions, and the more that we use data and technology to target specific populations with varying drug therapies, the better equipped we’ll be to develop effective disease management frameworks that stand to both control costs and improve outcomes tailored appropriately to the different segments of the overall patient population.
- Enabling behavior change and patient compliance: Another critical piece of any effective, personalized care management puzzle? Patient compliance. It is estimated that 50 percent of patients do not take their medications as prescribed. Each patient is unique, and each is going to have very different reasons to follow their care plan, which often includes poly-pharmacy and a mix of specific pharmaceutical and behavioral regimens. But once you have the information and tools to understand why someone behaves the way that they do, you actually become positioned to influence their behavior and motivate them to make better decisions when it comes to their healthcare. And in an environment that is riddled with inefficiencies, over-utilization and staggering costs of care, improving patient compliance must be a top priority. For any of this to be possible, though, you need the right data and technology. For example, by applying cognitive capabilities to electronic medical records (EMRs) – incredibly robust sources of patient and population data in and of themselves – you can uncover insights that would have otherwise gone undetected. Once validated, these key learnings can then be applied to affect patient behavior and improve compliance, all while improving outcomes and keeping costs down.
- Data driving innovation in drug development and repurposing: Currently 80 percent of health data is invisible to current systems because it’s unstructured. By having access to insights from data points on hundreds of millions of patients from electronic medical records (EMRs), claims databases and other Real-World data (such as data available through IBM Watson), pharma companies today are in the unique position to find the proverbial needle in health data haystack. And as we see more every day, medications are increasingly providing benefits beyond their original intent – such as bupropion, which started life as an antidepressant and was later also approved as a smoking cessation treatment! Given that traditional drug R&D can cost upwards of 2.5 billion dollars and can take more than 10 years to complete, pharma companies must embrace a data-driven approach to drug development, looking to analytics to help enable drug repurposing for a more efficient, streamlined and affordable way of bringing new therapies to market. It is a unique value proposition that pharma can bring to the FDA, patients and the entire healthcare community. For example, through our newest alliance with IBM Watson Health, we are using the power of advanced analytics and intelligent technologies to accelerate the development of new and repurposed drugs to improve outcomes and better treat chronic diseases.
- Data enabling pharma as a care partner and healthcare transformation collaborator: When armed with the right data – specifically predictive data – preventative medicine moves from simply being ideal to being the standard, allowing caregivers to turn from reactive to proactive, intervening early and many times before an issue arises. Through this proactive, data-driven approach to disease prevention and wellness, pharma companies can play an integral role in keeping healthcare costs down by keeping patients compliant, healthy and out of the system. We’re also currently experiencing a true convergence of fields in healthcare. From pharma and genomics, to diagnostics and wearables, these areas are increasingly overlapping, as are the myriad of corresponding data layers that go with them. Moreover, all of these fields and data sources have correlations and connections between them — ones that require cognitive tools and capabilities to learn from, develop and validate specific treatment recommendations. In the future, we can and must focus more on these intersecting points of care, appreciating and liberating our unique capabilities in order to create new avenues of innovation across the entire healthcare landscape. Pharma companies must commit to collaboration, making their wealth of data and analytics findings available to providers, payers, policymakers, purchasers and pioneers – in a way that’s accessible and useful – in order to do better for patients, caregivers and the industry as whole.
At Teva, our mission is to provide outstanding and high value patient care on a global scale. By expanding our partnership and launching the new alliance with IBM Watson Health, we hope to lead by example, illustrating how a pharmaceutical company can provide value and be an integral part of transforming how healthcare is delivered. By investing in innovation and using data and cognitive tools to develop solutions that take a holistic approach to patient care, we can make an impact in personalizing and improving the health of the millions of people that we touch every day.
[i] “Clinical Trends in Molecular Medicine,” Volume 7, Issues 5, 1 May 2001